For many years I refused to incorporate technology into my reading habits. I never looked books up online for reviews or searched for reading suggestions, didn’t follow other book blogs or social media accounts, and rarely used my Kindle.
Why, you may ask? Because I was being pretentious.
“PHYSICAL BOOKS OR NOTHING!” Shut up, Past-Samantha.
At the age of 29, I have finally started to really use technology and, you will be happy to hear, the world didn’t end. If anything, it has elevated my reading experience exponentially. I find myself reaching for my Kindle more than ever! It’s probably so happy to be out in the light of day instead of a cold, dark drawer. (But, more on e-readers in another blog.)
One tool that really changed my reading habits is Goodreads. (No, they aren’t paying me to say this. I wish they were, though). Here is why:
1) I am no longer at the mercy of the bookstore
Before I started using the internet for book-related things, I would just go to my local bookstore and browse the shelfs for as long as my two legs could keep me there (or before they kicked me out because they were closing). I still love doing this, of course, but I am no longer at the mercy of the bookstore’s inventory.
So, if I found a book I really enjoyed and wanted to read more by that author and there was only the one book I found, I assumed that was all there was by that writer. A dumb assumption, but almost all assumptions are. Now, at least, I can search the author and find out what other books they have under their belt. In fact, this happened recently.
A few years ago I read Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale and loved it. Of course, I never saw another book of hers on the shelf until her recent book Once Upon a River, which I immediately purchased and read (I like it, but not as much as Thirteenth Tale). And that was that until I was marking off books I read on Goodreads. To my absolute delight, I discovered a third book, Bellman and Black. Well, I immediately took it out from my local library and I am currently reading it. So far so good!
2) Helps me track my reads
Sadly, not all books are created equals. As much as I would love to be blown away by everything I read, there are going to be books that make you wonder how they made it to print and others that are just meh. It’s the meh ones I want to talk about.
If you are an avid reader, there is no way you remember every book you have ever read. And if you can, good grief, you should consider world domination because your mind scares me. As for me, I can’t remember everything I have ever read. Sometimes I think I haven’t read a book that I’ve already read. I pick it up and get half way through it before I realize my mistake. GAH! All that time wasted on a book I’ve already read (and didn’t love) when I could have been reading something new.
Not anymore, people! I look it up on my Goodreads app and voila! I saved valuable reading time. Phew!
3) Challenges encourage me to keep reading
I always liked the idea of book challenges, but never fully committed. I could give you a list of reasons why, but they would just be a list of excuses. So, at the beginning of this year, around the same time I downloaded the Goodreads app, I saw their reading challenge. I liked that you could set your own goal. I am happy today that at the time of publishing this blog, I am at 83/100. Thank you, COVID.
I know there are other reading challenge sites out there, but I enjoyed having all my stuff in one convenient place. If you know of another book challenge site, leave a comment to let us know! I’d love to check it out and see what features it has.
4) Ratings and reviews for my viewing pleasure
To be honest, I am not one to read reviews before reading a book, the synopsis is enough. If I really want to read a book, I’ll read it. After all, just because someone writes a review (aka a glorified opinion), doesn’t mean it has merit.
Where the ratings and reviews do come into play for me is when I really liked or disliked a book. Often, as many readers will know, you don’t always know someone else who has read the book (this is why book clubs are a blessing), so you need the reassurance of the internet. No, I am not looking for someone else to trash the book with. I just want to see if my issues or likes are similar to another reader’s. For this reason and this reason only, I appreciate the section.
Recently, I have tried my hand at writing reviews on Goodreads. Unlike other people, I don’t go into great depth, but I do like having the opportunity to give a quick opinion. It gives me a sense of closure I didn’t know I needed!
5) Online browsing
With COVID putting a bit of a wrench in my usual bookstore browsing, I’ve had to rely on the internet. By setting up my preferred genres, I love getting updates on new releases and suggestions.
Even better, I like taking the two seconds to click “want to read” and go back and browse that section when I am looking for something new to read. It also gives me a second chance to consider the book. Maybe, at the time, the cover intrigued me, but once I read the synopsis I wasn’t interested anymore. My bank account loves this feature. No more impulse buys.
Speaking of impulse buys, when I am in a rush and can’t spend as much time in the bookstore as I would like to really browse the shelves, I just open the app and can see what books I saved. Now with ten minutes to spare, I can run to see if the store has them.
6) Virtual bookshelves
I love collecting books and having them on display on my painstakingly organized shelves. They are my pride and joy. However, when you start reading ebooks, that kinda goes out the window.
Besides the preset shelves, you can add your own! Thank you, book gods! Now my physical copies and my virtual copies can live in harmony…virtually. Whatever, I’ll take it. As long as there is a bookshelf somewhere in the universe that houses all the books I’ve ever read, I am happy.